“Interdisciplinary” is a word that was consistently used to promote, describe, influence, and guide the doctoral program at Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Until I had completed the first few semesters toward my degree, I didn’t fully appreciate the interdisciplinary approach or the benefits of its purpose. Today, I not only understand the rationale behind the program design, but I also understand the potential it holds.
My excitement about the unlimited possibilities of interdisciplinary work was fueled during this year’s Fulbright grantee orientation. One by one, each grantee was invited to stand and tell the group a little bit about himself or herself. As I listened to each person in my cohort talk about their Fulbright projects, personal interests, and goals, I focused on the similarities, rather than differences, in application of our areas of expertise. Frankly, I was fascinated by the myriad of ways we might one day work together.
My research project, for example, is focused on breast cancer mortality reduction. As I heard one grantee talk about his political science interests, I thought of how interesting it would be to work with him on healthcare policy issues. As another grantee discussed her work as a composer, I thought about how music therapy might bring calm to patients undergoing chemotherapy. To some, these disciplines may seem completely disconnected. Thanks to my expanding worldview, I know they can be viewed as complementary.
As I progress through my Fulbright work, I am regularly exposed to new and diverse opinions, all which provide a deeper level of richness to my work. The Fulbright program has given me a unique opportunity – in fact, has directly encouraged and empowered me – to actively seek and embrace a range of theories, cultures, attitudes, ideas, thoughts, perceptions, beliefs, and so on. It is with this open-minded approach that I will advance my work with critical thought and careful analysis. Hopefully, I’ll take along some interdisciplinary companions on my journey.
Tricia Richards-Service is a 2017-2018 American Fulbright Schuman Visiting Student Researcher to Ireland and Romania. A adjunct faculty member of the Communication Arts Department at Marywood University and a doctoral candidate in health promotion, her research focuses reducing disparities in breast cancer mortality among EU member states. Read more about Tricia’s experience in Ireland on Frame Your Future, an initiative of the Communication Arts Department at Marywood University. Articles are written by Fulbright grantees and do not reflect the opinions of the Fulbright Commission, the grantees’ host institutions, or the U.S. Department of State.